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How to catch a doctor … dirty handed

Big brother is watching doctors, nurses, and any caregivers who don’t wash their hands before interacting with patients. Caregivers wear a special badge on their lab coats or scrubs, which turns a dark shade of red if components in the doors, soap dispensers, and near beds signal that healthcare providers have not followed proper hand hygiene.

The University of Massachusetts Medical School teamed up with Elke Rundensteiner, a computer science professor at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) in Worcester, MA, to design a system to monitor healthcare workers on their hand-washing protocols [1], reports The Worcester Telegram & Gazette. The system will be piloted in the next month and will monitor healthcare workers in patient rooms in intensive care units.

When the technology tracks healthcare workers not washing their hands, the badge turns red and data is instantly relayed to the nurses station and other computers, some of which are at WPI. Rundensteiner observes patterns and can send out emails or instant messages to alert someone to watch healthcare workers who aren’t washing their hands.

Do you think this is an effective way to help workers comply with hand hygiene policies, or does it smack of a “gotcha!” approach? Let us know in our comment section.